techshmology, quit deceiving me

November 17, 2008

lies. all lies.

contrary to iffsterly belief, the drive is not fine and i have lost all my lecture notes* and the photos from my summer trip i was working on.

no doubt the mistake was mine for not having backed up the stuff quickly enough, but it’s really gone.

oddly, i’m not too upset about it.
i kind of like this clean slate feel.

and hello, canned notes.

*i.e. all my first semester law lecture and tutorial notes for september and october.


the drive itself is…

October 18, 2008

a few days ago, my 4-month old macbook went crazy, leaving me without convenient access to a keypad connected to the internets. macbooks are immune to these silly breakdowns, i yelled to myself. i archived all my photos a month ago, but all my lecture notes since september were in the little white book, unsaved in other places.

since it happened, i’ve had the urge to post words and even photos, but i get paranoid doing it in rooms filled with rows and columns of machines shining bright lights on random faces.

just 10 minutes before closing time on friday, wearing my fuschia hijab, i made it to the store. half an hour ago, i heard back from J:

The drive itself is fine, and so is the data, so it looks like the OS somehow got corrupted, and is going to need to be re-installed.


October 14, 2008

please let me know if you find the new layout completely annoying.

i was going for something simple and light. and i’ve always been fond of typing in gray.

voting time

October 13, 2008

while canadian politics are nowhere near interesting or scandalous as the stuff south of the border that employs hundreds, if not thousands, of political pundits (and comic-satirists), one thing’s certain: it’s the canadian federal elections tomorrow, folks.

i spent most of the past few weeks at home with the family waiting for the strike at the law school to end. sometime late last week, i thought, hey, i should vote at the advance polls this weekend. there was no telling how long the strike would last, and i could have theoretically needed to make that (roughly) 400 km trip that very weekend, which would have made voting on election day terribly difficult.

so on saturday afternoon, my father drove me to the local library to cast my ballot. i was hoping there wouldn’t be any line-ups and my notdriver’s license id wouldn’t raise eyebrows. okay, so my license expired in march of this year and i haven’t replaced it because i don’t drive and i don’t have a car because i haven’t needed one and i also can’t afford a car. in place of the ubiquitous photo id, aka the driver’s license, i intended to produce my citizenship card or, worse yet, my passport. luckily, my passport photo is quite recent because i had it renewed in july, but i get all sorts of reactions to my citizenship photo…maybe because a) i’m not wearing a hijab in and b) i’m nine years old in it. a chinese lady at the post office complimented my pre-tweaked eyebrows a few months ago, making me blush a little. on this particular voting day, however, i didn’t have to show any of the usual photo id’s. luckily, i got away with just the health card and didn’t have to wait in a line.

as i got back in the car, i suddenly remembered the drama of pakistani elections. and oddly enough, parts of rohinton mistry’s a fine balance re the indian elections helped me recreate the stories of pakistan i was too young to experience first-hand. i felt content knowing that my father was beside me, in the driver’s seat, ready to confirm (or correct or reject) my words. in the village my father grew up in, buses would fill up the local residents, young and old, of voting age and drive them miles and miles away to the polling stations free of charge. once the buses were unloaded, the voters would be instructed on how to vote and which candidate to vote for. the lucky ones would return home in the same bus, but occasionally some voters would be abandoned after they’d been divested of their votes.

there was no guarantee of the secret ballot being secret. neither was their a guarantee that the ballots cast would be the same as the ones that would be rolled onto the counting table. and yet, the mood was always both tense and celebratory. the rallies were massive public parties, filled with chanting and dancing. and let’s not forget the the occasional effigy- and tire-burning. i still remember the catchy political slogans that we couldn’t help but sing aloud as kids while playing tag or ludo. or while eating dinner and watching tv. it all came down to this: we sure knew how to cheer for and curse our politicians, and we sure partied hard with mitthai (and other desserts) and freestyle bhangra when the favourite party won.

fast-forward to last week, two days before i voted. i found two identical letters in the mailbox and thought, oh great, another set of those paper-wasting political letters. vatewer happened to the hipness of paperless? one of the envelopes was addressed to me and the other to my father. i opened up the iffster addressed four-pager and began reading it.

i don’t expect you to read the whole thing, but here’s the gist of the letter: it’s an attack on the liberal candidate, rob oliphant, who has replaced the now retired john godfrey of the don valley west riding. the key reasons that the letter gives for why muslims should not vote for oliphant is because he’s gay, is married to a man, and is a gay activist. also, the letter calls on abdul ingar, the (former?) president of the islamic society of toronto, for endorsing a gay candidate without declaring that he’s endorsing a gay candidate.

the stuff about kathleen wynne (also a gay or at least a bisexual liberal candidate) kissing a hijabi woman during victory celebrations is irrelevant here, but is equally vitriolic.

okay, so here’s the thing. while political knowledge, engagement, and sense of empowerment is low among a number of voters – many of the muslim – in my riding who have trouble understanding canadian politics due to cultural and/or lingustic unfamiliarity, i think the presence of a gay candidate of a party that muslims in the area normally support raises questions about the role and function of mosques in a pluralistic society. even though these questions are not the exact or only questions one can raise, they’re unavoidable for those who are worried about the implication of a gay politician using a mosque as a platform to impart his or her message and gain votes.

my thought on the matter is that a mosque is a place for worship, but it is also analagous to a school and community centre. it can also be a place for social and political engagement. add in the post 9/11 reality of islamic places of worship and accessibility by newsmedia is also a desired quality in the contemporary mosque. mosques that close doors to nonmuslism come across as odd and sneaky. while mosques in the city vary greatly in their actual structure and organisation, there exists a paradigmatic mosque that mirrors the complexity and plurality of the lives of mulisms in toronto.

there’s some debate over whether voters should vote for the candidate or for the party, but i take the skeptical and pragmatic view by saying, i really don’t want to see the conservative party win again.

oliphant is a politician who happens to be gay and an activist. his being gay is neither necessary nor sufficient for his being a politician. there is no caual or correlating connection. his sexual orientation is irrelvant to his role as a politician and as a liberal party candidate.

if there’s anything on onliphant’s political record worth worrying about or investigating, it’s his being an advisor to michael ignatieff during the latter’s recent (unsuccessful) bid to become the liberal party leader.

round 3

October 8, 2008

the answer to where i’ve been all this time is here.

i’ve been (b)lurking and sulking (for no real reason), but that doesn’t explain the privitisation of all posts old. i’m not sure the answer i just thought up is convincing enough: i didn’t want that stuff up anymore.

i haven’t dismissed the possibility of bringing back some of the old stuff, though, if someone wants to see it. i also haven’t yet apologised for disappearing. z pointed out a couple of months ago that some reader(s) might be offended by an unexplained disappearance. while i don’t think it’s such a terrible thing to have one less blog to read, i do apologise for leaving without notice. it won’t happen again, sir or madam.

anyhoo, back to the point at issue: writing good blog posts requires much effort. while i gave up on the idea of being “useful” (thank you, socrates) a long time ago, i didn’t always have it in me to produce interesting stuff. i have a lot of respect for bloggers who consistently write awesome posts and, er, post more often than twice a year.

hey! i just realised that bbb is also an acronym for brown, bumbling buffoon. and i didn’t even have to change the comma placement.

anyhoo, here’s hoping and sorta promising (to self) the effort will be sufficient this time.

July 31, 2008

all my old posts have been privatised because i suck.

i will return presently with new public posts, hopefully.
in the meantime, i’m thinking.

les étrangers

June 8, 2008

every conversation with my father is like every other conversation the two of us have had for the past fourteen years. for as long as i can remember, all the family plans we make exclude him. it’s much easier for everyone that way. when he is there physically, which doesn’t happen often, me and my mother drink our jasmine tea, my brother reads his manga comics online in the adjacent room, while he, my father, watches the news on tv and reads more news on the paper, listens to yet more news on the radio, and makes long distance telephone calls (to pakistan, spain, and germany in one sitting). he does all of this seamlessly without missing a single word, glance, or gesture that passes between me and my mother. we feel slightly cheated by his definition of family time, but he seems to manage well.

a couple of weeks ago, i had to go to windsor to check out accommodations for school. i have an expired g1 license, but even if i had a valid one, i’d be afraid to touch my father’s monster of a crown vic. when my parents go grocery shopping on the weekends, the other drivers on the road slow down when they see my father’s car, mistaking it for an undercover police vehicle. there’s a new story about the old crown vic nearly every week. in normal circumstances, i’d ask my mother to come with me. on this particular day, however, my mother was exhausted and my brother was feeling too cool to accompany me, so i had no choice but to sit in the car as my dad drove from toronto to windsor – 382 km, according to google maps – and back. he was happy to come with me so he could get his assurance that the place i was to live in for the next (possibly) three years was worth it.

due to my chronic back pain that would most likely be worsened by my father’s stubbornness on making it a non-stop trip, i was worried about the drive. my mother was more worried that we wouldn’t be able to get past the boundaries of the city without arguing.

it’s funny, this hegelian nature of our relationship where the structure of each conversation down to the aporias and points of offense cluster themselves such that i can analyze a particular conversation as a replication of the totality of our relationship.

to each, we are les √©trangers – both strangers and others or outsiders. my father left pakistan to work in canada when i was six months old. he didn’t return for nearly seven years. during the time my parents lived separately, they occasionally spoke on the phone, but mainly used letters to communicate “important matters.” until he returned, i had only seen my father’s photos from the time he lived in germany, france, and italy, followed by some photos of my parents’ wedding where my father looked like ataullah, a pakistani folk singer. the father i knew was only a man with cool, thick, super-straight hair and spiffy clothes, always sporting playful smiles. outside the pictures, my mother was my mother, my father, my superhero.

mere abu imran khan neiN!
my father is imran khan
! remarked my cousin, sidra, one day after the pakistan cricket team won an important match.

meri ammi imran khan neiN!
my mother is imran khan!
i responded. that shut her up.

when i was five or six, my mother decided that i was ready to speak to my father. i got ready to go to my aunt’s house because her home was the only place in the neighbourhood that had a phone. in anticipation of my meeting with my father, i had dressed up believing that he would physically be there. upon arriving at my aunt’s house, i couldn’t hide my disappointment. i tried speaking to my father, but i couldn’t carry on. less than an hour later, i returned home, crying.

abu istri vich phassay neiN!
father is stuck inside an iron!

i can’t remember whether it was persuasion by others (and belief) or ridicule that allowed me to get over the trauma. anyhow, soon after i turned seven, my father told us that he would be coming to see us soon. finally. my mother reminded me of what he now looked like by handing to me his most recent pictures. alas, gone were his boyish looks from the 70s and the 80s ataullah look. canada had been awfully kind to his belly, but it hadn’t been kind enough to his face. i couldn’t ignore the pudge that enveloped him like a foreign skin. i concede, i was quite disappointed to see that my father no longer looked cool. my mother must have seen the look on my face, so she quickly took the photos away from me and said, you’ll be the first to recognize your father when you see him at the lahore airport next month. he, of course, knew what i looked like. over the years, my mother had made it a tradition to dress me up in pouffy girly dresses and send me to chachu hafeez’s studio every few month or so for portraits.

in a moment of useless cleverness, my father mentioned to my mother that he would arrive on what would be the 29th canada time but 30th pakistan time. my mother let slip the two dates and the confusion began. two groups formed as a result – the 29ths and the 30ths – each unwilling to concede to the other. no amount of clarification by my mother or even my father would settle the matter. both groups joked about my mother going to the airport on the wrong day.

the night before my father’s (real) arrival, i took a shower before going to sleep because there wouldn’t be enough time the next day. i took a lump of hardened coconut oil and melted it between my palms before applying it to my damp hair. when i stepped out in front of the adults, they wouldn’t stop laughing and called me a paindu. a village git. i showered again.

we’re on our way in a tiny gray toyota my father drives faster than most vehicles around us, including the fancy cars and the jumbo trucks with massive wheels. we spend much of our time in the left lane making sure to overtake every car that has passed us by. it begins raining hard 15 minutes into the drives and the wiper on the driver’s side is not doing what it should. all my father sees is a wet blur. i must be his eyes until the rain stops or we drive through the system. we even drive by what looks like a funnel cloud past london and are finally in the clear – specks of cloud, grass, trees, and farms. our path is dotted with exits to small towns including leamington, the tomato capital of ontario, and countless tiny lakes.

we talk about everything from our summer trip to my brother’s eternal boredom with school. we have our first argument before we’re gone past 5 km from home, but if we make it through, i know the rest of the drive will go well.

as we’re driving back, my father says, we’re lucky there’s not much traffic today. there will be lots more as people return from their cottages tomorrow.

me: acha.
right (but “acha ‘rhymes with “ajj” which means “today”).

father: naiN. kal.
no. tomorrow.

me: acha.

father: naiN, naiN. kal.

about an hour left until we get to toronto, the biggest topic of conversation is what places we will see in august. my father, afterall, has lived in germany, france, and italy when he was younger. but his stay in all these places was hardly ideal. even as he lived a few buildings away from notre dame, he never once stepped inside the cathedral. there hadn’t been time. long work hours and the general immigrant condition are reasons for not having seen any place that lies outside of the bus route to work. stories about germany are just as depressing. there’s one story, though, that he he thinks is worth telling.

when me and a few other guys were new to germany, the guys who had been there longer than us warned us never to drink cream sold in tiny containers at coffee shops. they told us it’s monkey milk.

the germans eat some really weird things; we just had to be careful, you know? the origin of the milk became a story we passed on to the guys who came after us.

i told your mother the story a while back. ‘are you crazy?’ she said. ‘monkeys would beat you up and scratch your eyes out before allowing you to milk them.’

my father drives into the gas station a few blocks from our condo and fills the tank while i replay the monkey milk story in my mind. he returns a few minutes later and looks at me. we both grin and burst out laughing.

dushman maray ta khusi nah kariyeh sajna vi mar jana eh

December 27, 2007

these are the words of hazrat miah muhammad buksh (ra), which i’ve translated as:

rejoice not at the death of the enemy because [a] friend [or beloved], too, will die

“pakistanooN aj ik barrhi pehrrhi khabar ayi eh,” said my mother.
there’s terrible news from pakistan.

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